This issue of The X-Files Conspiracy crossover features the biggest potential breaking point of the concept yet. Whereas the Ghostbusters in the previous issue, handled correctly, could fit easily enough into the X-Files milieu, giant mutant turtles with a penchant for pizza and ninjitsu are a pretty fantastical concept even for the conspiracy-minded Lone Gunmen.
Yet, as with the presence of ghosts in the previous issue, the Lone Gunmen react far too casually when coming face to face with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in this issue. Understandably, some of this lack of reaction can be chalked up to space: with only one issue to work with, and the overarching narrative of the crossover to be serviced, no one wants to see twenty odd pages of the Lone Gunmen freaking out about the turtles. But something beyond the muted reactions on display here would be appreciated.
More importantly, this issue continues the crossover’s serious lack of fun, which is a significant problem when the premise of the issue can be described as “the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Lone Gunmen team-up to battle a group of OCD vampires”. There’s two ways to approach a crossover like this, which tries to mash-up several disparate properties: deadly serious, or tongue-in-cheek fun. Thus far, the story is taking neither approach, as the Lone Gunmen’s reactions to the various phenomenon they’ve encountered thus far is too laissez-faire for the serious approach, while their interactions with those phenomenon aren’t nearly as much fun as they should be.
The end result is a disappointing story that tries both approaches and succeeds at neither. The plot of this issue has lots of potential for fun, but it’s carried out in a routine, by-the-numbers fashion. Again, this could be the fault of the “one crossover per issue” approach, as each issue has so much to do – introduce the new characters and tell a complete story while also advancing the larger narrative – that no one element stands out and they all end up feeling rushed and perfunctory.
Whatever the reason, while this is certainly not a bad issue, it is a boring one, which is almost worse. And the continuing lack of fun and energy in the crossover remains disappointing.
One bright spot in this issue is the art. While by no means unique or exceptional in terms of its panel layout or storytelling, it eschews the pseudo-realism of the previous issues of the crossover for something more expressive and cartoony, which both fits the nature of the co-stars well and (wisely) sidesteps any concerns about the likenesses of the characters imported from a live action TV show.
Another nice touch: the vampires, including pizza delivery boy Ronnie Strickland, whom the TMNT and Lone Gunmen battle in this issue are from the season five X-Files episode “Bad Blood”, with several of the plot points in this issue lifted from that episode via Mulder, who drops in (by phone) to help the two groups.